After the first case of monkeypox was recorded in Cape Town, City Health advises the public to be aware and alert to signs and symptoms of monkeypox, and what to do in the event that they suspect infection.
The City of Cape Town’s Health Department is working closely with other spheres of government and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases to manage any potential outbreak of monkeypox in the metropole.
Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus. It can spread from animals to humans, and also between people. Spread is through close physical contact with someone who has symptoms (particularly the rash). However, the risk of infection to the South African population remains low, given the low transmissibility of the virus. The Monkeypox virus is far less transmissible than Covid, for example.
Symptoms include a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever, and is most prevalent on the face, palms and soles of the feet. It can also be found on the mouth, genitals and eyes.
Symptoms typically last between two to four weeks and go away on their own without treatment; however, infants, children, pregnant women and those with comorbidities or immunity problems may be at risk of more serious disease.
City Health Clinics are prepared to test and provide supportive treatment to those who are symptomatic, as well as, provide guidance and information to them and their loved ones.
City Health Outbreak response teams, which include Primary Health Care and Environmental Health Services will assist in case management and contact tracing, similar to what was done during the Covid-19 pandemic, and investigate localised outbreaks in congregate settings.
‘The news of our first case of monkeypox will no doubt cause some concern and anxiety for our residents. It is important to note that due to the low risk of transmission, a wide spread outbreak of Monkeypox is highly unlikely. City Health will do everything possible to help mitigate the impact of the virus. Our health response was severely tested during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I think the experiences will be extremely valuable in managing any future disease outbreaks. However, we remind the public that health is a shared responsibility. Please do ensure that you are alert to the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, and that you help create awareness within your family and community, without fear-mongering or judgement, and to steer clear of spreading fake news. If you are unsure about what to do, seek advice at your nearest clinic or private health service provider,’ said the Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia Van der Ross.